In this Diamond Jubilee year a burgeoning Leicestershire forest will be further expanded to create a living legacy in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the British throne.
On June 1 the site of a new 460-acre woodland in The National Forest in Leicestershire throws open its gates to welcome its very first visitors.
The ‘Flagship Diamond Wood’ is within striking distance of Leicester, created on open land near the village of Normanton Le Heath. Eventually it will be the jewel in the crown of the Woodland Trust’s campaign to plant six million trees in the Queen Jubilee year.
The site’s first oak, ash, birch and rowan trees will be planted from November on reclaimed land, some of which was previously used as a coalmine. Conservation experts also hope the new habitat will attract at-risk species of wildlife including the lesser spotted woodpecker. Paths and trails will lead past a newly created lake and through the new woodland that is to be planted by teams of volunteers from the local community and groups of visiting schoolchildren.
Sprawling further than London’s Regent’s Park, Leicestershire’s Diamond Wood is the largest and most ambitious project undertaken by the
Woodland Trust since 2008 – in all, 300,000 trees are expected to be planted.
The open day in June is the first opportunity for the public to visit and find out more about plans for the site. Everyone is invited, especially families who want to join in with a special picnic to celebrate the project and the Queen’s Jubilee. Woodland crafts and activities will also figure in the special occasion.
The Woodland Trust launched a major campaign to raise the £3.3 million it needs to fund the Diamond Wood site and all 300,000 new trees needed.
“We need help to create woodland for the nation,” said Sue Holden, chief executive of the Woodland Trust, “to give everyone access to the beauty of the natural world and create a legacy for The Queen’s Jubilee.
“It’s a chance to celebrate the reign of one of our best-loved and longest-reigning monarchs while educating people about the need to increase woodland cover in the UK.
“We are one of the least wooded countries in Europe, so there’s an urgent need for more trees to help double native woodland cover in the UK. We need the help of people to make this happen whether it is through tree planting, giving time or through fundraising.”
As a whole The National Forest covers 200 square miles of land crossing the counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire.
It was launched with the objective to increase woodland cover within this area and has already planted some 7.8 million trees.
With the extension to the Forest made by the Diamond Wood it is hoped that numbers of resident birds such as the yellowhammer and
marsh tit will increase further, with insects and butterflies attracted to extended woodland edges and hedgerows.
More than 175,000 people have visited the Forest and participated in events over the last 15 years. The Woodland Trust hopes the new
woodland will attract new visitors and become a favourite location for people, schoolchildren and organisations from Leicester and around to visit and learn about nature.
For details visit Jubilee Woods project website www.jubileewoods.org.uk
Parking will not be available at the site on June 1, but shuttle buses will run from nearby car parks.